Travel to Fathala

Lion at Fathala Reserve

Travel to Fathala is easy from Toubakouta and also from the Gambia, crossing the border. On our tour we had people who were travelling around Senegal, and also tourists on day trips from the Gambia. When I had signed us up for this activity, I thought it would be like an animal safari. However, when we arrived we were handed some sticks and told to carry them so the lions would know not to attack us. We were a little surprised. In the end, it felt as safe as you can be with large, wild animals. It was amazing to be so close to the beautiful lions. They didn’t seem to like the cameras and tended to look away. But they were very well trained to sit and allow some photo opportunities.

The protective sticks
Posing with Chris & Lisa at Fathala
Natural behaviour at Fathala


  • Fathala Wildlife reserve animal safari and the lion walk with many photo and video opportunities with the lions
  • Border crossing to the Gambia

Before you go

  • For Fathala, they send some rules in advance like do not wear animal prints, take off your sunglasses, and do not carry any bags
  • You carry a coloured stick which the lions are trained with, but still do not kneel in front of them
  • Wear comfortable shoes to walk on dirt and gravel
Chris and Lisa walking with guide
Hotel Keur Saloum in Toubacouta
Hotel Keur Saloum in Toubacouta


  • We opted to have a private guide and driver from Trip Tour Senegal to take us around, and this was a great experience. We didn’t have to worry about trying to catch buses or taxis, and our guide could suggest what to see in the area
  • You need a car to get to Fathala as it is not near any public transport


  • We stayed north of Fathala at Keur Saloum, which was a beautiful hotel right along the river. The sunset was stunning!
  • Our room was on the upper floor of a spacious hut. Beds were comfortable and the A/C was excellent. The only uncomfortable aspect is that the bathroom is just a thin wall divide that doesn’t reach the ceiling, so you can hear everything
  • Dinner and breakfast at this hotel were delicious
  • As usual I recommend checking reviews on or using AirBnB. You can also stay at the Fathala reserve
Barracuda and fried potatoes


We just had one meal in the area, which was at the Keur Saloum hotel. It was a three course meal included with our stay. First, the starter was like a ceviche. I had an upset stomach so I skipped that. Then we had barracuda fish in sauce with fried potatoes. Finally, dessert was cake with chocolate sauce. It was tasty and a lot of food.


Q: Do I need a tour guide?

A: Yes, it is probably a good idea as you will need to drive between the different tourist areas of interest. Also at Fathala, you definitely need guides to manage the lions who are walking right next to you

Q: Do people speak English?

A: Yes, at the wildlife centre and hotels they speak English. However, local people usually only speak a local language and sometimes French

Q: Is it a walkable city?

A: No, it is spread out and best to have a car

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